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City discusses election ballot question

March 24, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

The Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday discussed amending a ballot question that would let voters decide whether to change the dates that municipal elections are held.

The original question, which is to appear on the ballot during the city's general election on May 19, would give voters the opportunity to change municipal primary and general elections to coincide with the presidential ones.

If that happens, the city's primary and general elections no longer would be held in March and May, but in February and November.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner suggested keeping the ballot question the same as far as the general election is concerned. He said the city should consider, however, changing the municipal primary to September, which would mean the primary would be held only two months before the presidential general election.

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Metzner said the eight months that would transpire between a February primary and the November general election would be too long -- especially for incumbents who lost in the primary.

He said the city should talk to the Washington County Board of Elections to explore whether election officials would manage a September primary if the city paid the cost.

Metzner said the cost probably would be low because a stand-alone city primary only would be held "two times in a decade."

The council agreed to leave the ballot question the way it is for now, but city officials would discuss Metzner's proposal with election officials.

Members of the council voted earlier this year to put the question on the ballot after they heard arguments that the city could save money and voter turnout could increase if the election dates were changed.

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